Pennsylvania Resources Council puts hazardous materials in their place
People have turned in more than 4 million pounds of hazardous chemicals since the Pennsylvania Resources Council began collecting them 11 years ago.
“What they are doing is tremendous. It is a great public service,” said John Poister, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The council does not know exactly how much its work has improved the condition of landfills, wastewater and stormwater.
“That would be really hard to quantify. I do not know what the impact of these collections would be. It is a small amount, barely scratching the surface,” said Michael Stepaniak, environmental programs coordinator at the council.
Officials at the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association could not say either.
In Pennsylvania, it's legal to dispose of hazardous chemicals such as paint thinner, gasoline and oil with household garbage or by pouring it into a drain, according to Poister. But toxins from chemicals can get into the ground or groundwater, can be flammable and can cause combustion, Poister said.
One trend environmental authorities are noticing is that waste haulers are getting more selective about what they will pick up. Some of this is a result of a 2013 law that prohibits collection of electronic waste.
“More and more, haulers are also refusing to collect paint cans and containers with other chemicals,” Poister said.
Changing the law would require establishing regular collections for hazardous chemicals or permanent drop-off locations for consumers, Stepaniak said.
“If you make it illegal, you have to set up the infrastructure, which would take money. In some states, it is not a priority,” he said.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an average home can easily accumulate 100 pounds of cleaners, car batteries, motor oil, paints, stains and varnishes, pesticides and other products containing hazardous components.
On Saturday, the council will sponsor a collection event in Boyce Park. It will be the 75th held in a nine-county region of Western Pennsylvania since 2003.
“If they were stacked up, the containers holding the (collected) chemicals would be 600 times as high as the Washington Monument,” Stepaniak said.
The Boyce Park collection is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will accept cleaners, paints, stains, automotive products, pesticides, oil and gasoline.
Stepaniak said some people have shown up with somewhat exotic chemicals — including liquid mercury, cyanide, strychnine and even DDT, which was banned in the United States in 1972.
The council charges $2 for each container of chemicals it disposes.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police seize heroin, cash in North Versailles
- DOJ program goal: Increased trust between law enforcement, community
- Millions to travel through Western Pa. during Memorial Day weekend
- Analyst says Pa. senate race leans toward Toomey — because Democrats ‘loathe’ Sestak
- VA report shows W.Pa. error rate down, but inspectors point out delays in re-evaluating cases cost $493K
- Expert: Penn Hills loan could worsen stability
- 9 juveniles charged in connection with opening day disturbance at Kennywood
- ‘Sham’ cancer charity penalized by regulators had been sued by Pa.
- Salvaged editions of Pittsburgh Courier a trove of black history
- BNY Mellon ‘repeatedly misled clients’
- Newsmaker: Jeff Tripodi